Our society’s worst nightmare of seeing divorced women happy (well, God forbid) wasn’t over yet that a billboard, featuring a sassy bride wearing dabang goggles “happily” running away from her marriage, comes to haunt. This ad came as a part of wide marketing campaign of bike services of leading ride-hailing app in Pakistan with diverse other catchphrases. Although sources at careem say that the ad was just a humorous way to attract attention and promote their bike especially how it can be used in any kind of situations, and there was no social motive behind this ad. But it, undoubtedly, probed some cultural sensitivities revolving around marriage inviting an infuriated backlash from twitteratis. Some saying it’s violating the sanctity of marriage, others concerned that it doesn’t ‘depict our culture’. Worst advertisement by #Careem – doesn’t depict our social &cultural values. pic.twitter.com/vYAFBZZCeU — Anam Hameed (@anamhameed) March 18, 2019 The institution of marriage, being inherently patriarchal, is the last thing anyone dares to question, let alone the absence of consent and free-will in a marriage – a concept somewhat alien to our country. After all, marriage is the most ‘sacred’ civil contract of our society and a glue holding it cultural values and norms intact. Yet, it hides many darker truths under the sacred cloak of cultural legacy – destroying the women’s lives by forced marriages are okay, but runaway bride becomes a shame to entire clan. The journalist Ansar Abbasi tweeted that the careem ad is ‘so shameful’. So shameful. #Careem https://t.co/ieujA3sGI8 — Ansar Abbasi (@AnsarAAbbasi) March 18, 2019 The question is, is it less shameful when women are forced into marriages against their will? Is it less shameful when women are killed because of marrying against the will of their parents? Is it less shameful when women have to drop out from school or college to get married against their will? Is it less shameful when women have to resign from their hard earned careers just because the sasural demands a parhi likhi bahu who can do only chores. Others criticizing that it is an attempt to break the family structure and disrupt our cultural and religious values. Well, Marriage is a civil contract in both religious and legal terms, which becomes void if anyone is forced to become a party to the contract. So again, what is against our cultural and religious values: bride running away from her unwanted marriage or a forced marriage which is null and void in both religious and legal perspective. Before protecting the culture so fiercely, maybe we should revisit what actually our cultural values are; women’s subjugation through varied oppression deeply rooted in socio-economic, political and legal structures, stripping women off of their agency from birth, or controlling their lives through complex power relations between the genders inside and outside the home. Comedian and Producer Ali Gul Pir, however, held a different opinion about the advertisement. I don’t understand how people can be triggered by free will. Usko nahi kerni shadi, would bhaag Rahi hai, tumhay Kya hai? Aur acha hai #Careem Kay sath bhaag Rahi hai, not some Anwar @CareemPAK pic.twitter.com/EecqznNMmy — Ali Gul Pir (@Aligulpir) March 18, 2019 Another news, though unconfirmed, went viral on social media that Ministry of Interior called upon the CEO of Careem amidst the social media backlash. Interestingly, the ad was removed overnight. Some good news: Interior Ministery “Shehryar Afridi” calls upon CEO #Careem to clarify his recent marketing campaign that has went viral on social media with much backlash. Should enforce them to remove and mold their filthy advertising banners/flexes.#CareemAd pic.twitter.com/lOwc0V4m1q — Aatif. (@AatifAzio) March 19, 2019 Academic and feminist activist Aimen Bucha tweeted about the meeting: “Wish they were this concerned about how women are forced into marriages and go through marital violence . Our lives are not taglines for cooperation and neither for the state to trivialize” I get the famous quote by Mark Twain that ‘The tragedy plus time makes humor’, but it’s about time that business corporations stop using tragedies of women’s lives as their catchphrases.